Archives for May 2018

Sunrise, Sunset…

(and by that I mean the actual time the sun rises and sets, not the song from Fiddler on the Roof, which is a fine song, but only when sung by Zero Mostel in the original Broadway production)

I’ve touched on this before, because daytime vs. nighttime is very important when a subset of characters WILL DIE in the deathgiving rays of the sun. (Also, you’ve got characters like Miss Takeda, who says things like “Sunset is at 1942 tomorrow evening. I will pick you up at your apartment at 2000.” And she’s very punctual…).

The reason I’m giving this thought right now is because I’ve decided to change the date of when Blood for Blood takes place. Originally it was in April, about three and a half months after the events of Bandit’s Moon. Now it’s in August.

Why?

Well, as you might recall, Bandit’s Moon was pretty dark, and it took Charlie Welles to a VERY dark place. He’s killed in self-defense. He’s killed for revenge and justice. But in Bandit’s Moon, he acts, for all intents and purposes, as an assassin. And it was bound to affect him, even four months later.

When thinking about Blood for Blood over the past month or so, I gave it a fair amount of thought.

Ignore it? Sure, that’s the easiest way to go. In fact, that’s the way it ran in the first version that I’m rewriting. Suck it up and drive on. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like that was doing a disservice to the Welles character. That he could just let that kind of thing roll off of him.

Of course, the other obvious option would be to have it haunting him, but let’s get real –  who the hell wants to read about his angst. Maybe he could tear up every now and then, or start spending time with a shrink talking about his feelings. Wouldn’t that be a great addition to the story.

Or I could just work it in somehow, but it would be a balancing act to keep it from being maudlin and putting the brakes on the forward momentum of the story. Because, in the end, I do have a story to tell and Charlie Welles, the Emo Detective, is not that story.

So I decided to take the coward’s way out, and will just put some time between the end of Bandit’s Moon and the beginning of Blood for Blood. I will probably still address the situation at one point or another, but it won’t be as raw for Welles.

But there’s another reason.

The world of Night and Day is changing. The “war” (such as it was) ended six years ago. Humans came out of the internment camps almost four years ago. Two years ago, was Night and Day, and thing were still pretty rough between humans and vampires.

Now, it’s different. Pendants are falling out of favor. Humans are no longer looked at as “property” by their vampire employers. The police department is integrating. Chief Northport, a human, is running police operations. And there are further changes still to come (and actually, some of those changes will have an impact on the next book, Crimson Star).

For that reason, a little more time needs to elapse since last we visited the world of Night and Day. Not years, because the snowball is picking up speed as it rolls down the hill, but a few more months. That should set things up nicely for the next book.

And finally, to wrestle it all back to where I started, the time of sunrise and sunset between April and August is noticeable, though not enormous. Days are about 15 minutes longer, plus or minus a few minutes. (and if you were wondering, I use Birmingham AL for sunrise/sunset in No Name City. I could use Atlanta, or Chattanooga or maybe even Columbia SC, since all are roughly in the area of No Name City, but I go with Birmingham because, hey, that’s where I live.)

In any case, the days are a little longer, the nights are a little shorter, and Miss Takeda will have to just hang out at home and polish her sword till the sun goes down…

First Chapter

How important is that first chapter?

Well, you talk to some people and they’ll tell you that it’s the most important chapter in the book. Your chance to grab the readers by the cojones (assuming, of course, they don’t have the AMS 800 in which case you’ll get an unwelcome surprise..). Pull them into the story and make them scream “More!”

I agree with that to some extent, but perhaps not completely. Yes, it’s important to get the reader involved in the story and characters early, but there are other factors of equal importance, at least for me.

Night and Day –  We open with Welles walking through Expedition Square, on his way to Hanritty’s for breakfast. Breakfast, an interlude with Johnny Three-Legs, and as he’s getting ready to leave, a couple of cops walk in to talk to him. It’s “day in the life” stuff. All wind-up, no pitch (to use a baseball metaphor). I know somebody who hated the opening, found it uninvolving. Oh well. My purpose wasn’t to grab the reader so much as to tease the reader. Tell them about the world of Night and Day. Talk about the low-lifes coming out when the sun rises, rather than when it sets. Some stuff about the pendants that some wear that makes them “special”.  It’s not quite our world, it’s a little off, but I don’t go into the hows and whys. That starts in chapter two.

Bleeding Sky –  We open with Welles and his new trainee, Brenner, tailing somebody in a car. Brenner becomes an important character, but at this point he’s just another vampire trainee, though there’s some mention of Special Collections, which also becomes central to the story. I’m planting acorns that will eventually sprout into mighty storyline oaks. That and some “this is the world” stuff is the purpose of the chapter. Your cojones are quite safe.

Bandit’s Moon –  We open with Redmond coming to Welles’s office and boom, we’re into the story, the main plot. Feel that squeeze? It’s pretty close to “grab ’em”. No dancing around this time.

And then we come to the first chapter of Blood for Blood.

Pre-rewrite, it’s closer to the Night and Day first chapter than the other two. Which is not to say that there isn’t some good stuff there. We meet a character who was mentioned, I believe, but never seen in Bandit’s Moon. We have some discussion about Hemolo, the blood store that features prominently in the story. And it sets up a piece of business for chapter two (which I like, though it doesn’t have squat to do with the main plot).

But…

Even with the tasty goodness within, it doesn’t really hit the spot for me. My further thinking about the story as a whole, especially the latter parts of the book, makes it seem like a missed opportunity.

Fortunately, it’s one that’s easily rectified in the rewrite. Overall, it will be much the same in most ways. The major change will be with one of the characters, who will turn out to be a lot more important as things come to a head in the last third of the book.

And, of course, one thing that won’t be going away is the bit about Philly, the Underpants Man, discussed here. Because though we don’t meet him in Blood for Blood, he is an important part of Crimson Star, the next Night and Day book.

Underpants Awaaaaaaaay!™

Don’t Be Afraid…

I’m not going to expose you to any more of the hellish information in the last post. I actually could have skipped the more detailed horrors by saying “had some health issues”. But then you might have wondered “what kind of health issues” “I thought you were dead and you came back…are you just going to die again?” And anyway, I find the whole thing pretty funny. In retrospect.

No, from here on, it’s back to talking about Blood for Blood, other Night and Day series projects, and other projects unconnected to the Night and Day universe.

So, let’s talk about Blood for Blood. Stopped about 30K words in, maybe a third of the way through.

I’m rewriting it.

Not as a new piece. The basic framework and story are solid, and the writing isn’t bad. But for two reasons.

First, I need to get back into the Charlie Welles voice. As I’ve mentioned here and there, Welles’s voice has some of my voice in it, but isn’t my voice. It’s a character voice, and it’s important that it remains consistent to his voice in the first three books. The best way I know to get into the voice is to write a fair amount in that voice.

Second, the couple of years break between those 30K words and today have given me plenty of time to think about the story and characters. I’ve re-read the whole thing three times. The story has become a lot more clear in my mind, what it is and what it should be. I want to make some changes, with the plot and with some of the characters. Rather than retrofit as I’ve done in the past when I realized late in a book that I had to go back and make changes, add things, remove things, I figure it’s best to just do it as a rewrite.

I thought I might get some of it done while I was on vacation in Florida two weeks ago, and actually pulled out the printouts and set them next to the laptop on the hotel desk. Then I went and did something else. What a surprise.

But I’m home now, and ready to start working on it, so that’s what I’ll do. Read through Chapter One, to get a solid feel for what happens in it. Then start rewriting it. Grabbing some dialogue, description and action verbatim. Rewriting the rest. And so on, through the eleven and a half chapters that have been written.

By then, the Welles voice should be solid, and I’ll have set things up for the middle part of the book and the final part, which is a lot clearer to me now than it was when I was first writing it. And so I’ll lumber on to the end. I’ll have a better idea of when that will be once I’m hip-deep in it.

After that, the short, Buffalo Falls. I’ve read through what I’ve got of that a couple of times as well. Probably rewrite time for that as well.

Then…well, I’m up in the air. On one hand, I’d like to jump into the next Night and Day book, Crimson Star, since I’ve been playing around with things from that in my mind as well. On the other hand, I really want to do a book about a character of mine who calls himself the Lincolnshire Poacher, a timeline hopping thief who saves worlds from some very bad people who want to destroy them. I did a series of radio plays about him, and have been giving a lot of thought to a new story to introduce the character (in prose form) that seems like it could be a ton o’ fun.

Right now, I’m leaning toward that rather than Crimson Star, but it changes from week to week. We’ll see.

And I still have lots of other stuff I want to do as well.

So that’s where we stand. I hope to get into the Blood for Blood rewrite within the week, and will start posting regularly once I’m into it and have something to actually talk about. Other than, well, you know, my urethra…

Soooooo

Ken news or Blood for Blood news? Which are people aching for? (and nausea is, indeed, an ache of sorts…)

Let’s do Ken news first. Ego demands it.

Last time, as you recall, we left Ken putting his computer back together after he fixed some bad sectors. And he did. But then he went away and spent about 6 months of intensive work on his machinima empire. New software, new features, new and improved everything. That got him toward the end of the year.

(enough of the third-person already…)

Then, a year after the radiation treatments ended, the side affect hit me. Total loss of bladder control. A true WTF moment that came on in the space of like two days. Monday, everything is fine. By Wednesday, my bladder was saying “I ain’t gonna carry your urine no more!”

So, more doctor stuff. Then my bladder started bleeding in about three places. Blood in the urine is unpleasant. Blood clots in the bladder are more than unpleasant. Two trips to the hospital, and on the second, the doc went in and cauterised the three spots. That took care of that. But not the larger issue.

More doctor visits. They decided that perhaps some time in a hyperbaric chamber would heal the mouth of my bladder and return me to normal.

Hyperbaric

(yes, I did have a little TV to watch and they did communicate with me using a phone handset. Nothing electrical in the tank or IT WOULD BLOW UP!)

So, for about two months, I went over to the hospital every day and spent two hours in the oxygen tube. It was, in every way, a disappointment. It didn’t actually heal anything AND breathing almost 100% oxygen did not make me feel as god-like as I’d hoped. I also didn’t enjoy the 20 minutes on either end trying to clear the popping in my ears…

Back to the doctor and they suggested…

Cuff

The AMS 800! The thought of having something with a name in my body certainly has a certain cachet to it, but just as quickly they stopped talking about that and started talking about…

Conduit

an ileal conduit….who needs that stupid old bladder anyway! Let’s just go straight from the kidneys right out through a tube in my abdomen (stoma) and into a bag secreted somewhere on my person. The doctor tells me this would be best for my “quality of life”.

What? Peeing into a frigging bag for the rest of my life is going to improve my “quality of life”? Then when I talked to the surgeon who handled the operation (I was being polite…I’d already decided this was a non-starter…), I asked what about my bladder. Wouldn’t it be lonely in there with nothing to do? He told me that they’d just go ahead and remove it.

I just stared at him.

And then I stopped going to that urology practice because clearly they were all insane.

(I’m not knocking the procedure….though it’s normally done when you have bladder cancer or something requiring the removal of the bladder…not as something to improve your “quality of life” in some bizarro universe. I will probably be getting the AMS 800 in the next month or so, but will be using different doctors. I want to have the same parts coming out as going in….)

Then more happened. Long term houseguest. With a dog. Dog park every day. Houseguest gets pregnant (no, not mine) and has a child. Dog and child every day.

Movie

But I did not stop THINKING about Blood for Blood. Or other projects still to come.

But as we hit 600 some-odd words, perhaps it’s time to end and talk about all that tomorrow….

Saddle up the Palomino…

….it’s time to ride!

Or in less grandiose and metaphorical terms, it’s finally time to get back to Blood for Blood.

Yes, I’ve been gone a thousand years.  Well, not gone, so much as not working on the Night and Day series. Though I have been thinking about it, and other projects, a lot…and for some of us, myself included, thinking is indeed work.

But I’ve finally reached that point where the itch to write has become overwhelming. And the only way to scratch it is to do it.

I’ll probably start sometime within the week, and next time, I’ll give you all the news you’re hungering for!

(actually, this post is just a trial balloon to make sure that everything in the blog backend is working –  posting to the TMU/TMOA forums, to Facebook, to Twitter –  I mean, there are literally one or two people who might actually be interested that things are on the move –  I may or may not be part of that one or two…)